Networking Tips for Introverts Who Lowkey Hate Networking
I do like networking events (when I’m feeling up to it).
For those occasions when I’m not in the mood but feel obligated, still see the value in going, and/or should probably (definitely) make an appearance because a friend, colleague, or other very important person or opportunity will be there – mama has to suck it up and do the following things to get back into the right headspace to slay.
1.) Ask yourself if it still sparks joy.
We’ve all been there. Your Social Self made plans without consulting your Introverted-Let-Me-Be-A-Hermit Self and, come the day of a networking event that Social Self signed up for weeks ago, the network-y anxiety takes over. If you were initially excited about the event, try to tap back into that. Marie Kondo it. Social anxiety is hard to cope with; but if you remind yourself WHY you wanted to go in the first place and it still sparks joy, try to tap into that moment as it might reinvigorate you to go.
2.) Be mindful about the social energy you expend leading up to the event.
As an introvert, I often find myself feeling socially exhausted after big events. They tend to deplete my energy so making sure my social tank is full before leaving home is my number one priority. Pamper yourself, take a disco nap, clear any other social plans. You want to be present if you’re going to go. Otherwise, what’s the point? People can sense awkward and, for the socially anxious, that only makes you more anxious and awkward. It’s a cycle of doom, so take care of yourself first to make sure you’re actually up for it and will be able to make the most of the situation.
3.) Make sure your escape route is in place.
This may sound dramatic, but make sure you have a way to get home without relying on anyone else. If it’s a Lyft, bringing your own car, or making sure your metro pass has money on it, plan your escape route before leaving the house so if you need to merp out at any point (for any reason) you’re not tied down. There is certain peace of mind that comes with making sure this vital step is planned out.
4.) Try not to hype your expectations.
As an introvert and someone who gets social anxiety, I know it can be easy to psych yourself out from even going to an event. There have countless events I’ve talked myself out of because of my expectations of what the event was going to be, who was going to be there, and what the potential of making new connections at the said event might do for my career. I’ve found that if I can go with a devil-may-care attitude (or just a general air of apathy), and no expectation of what I’ll get out of it, I’m always surprised of how much I actually kick ass at these types events. I’m present and not the proverbial wallflower and, because I have no expectation and my escape route is in place, I have no qualms about being fully present then promptly dipping out.
5.) Be intentional with who or what is in front of you.
As an introvert, you’re likely a rockstar at the intimate, 1-on-1 conversations. Those types of deep interactions sustain you, so try to be focused on whatever or whoever is in front you, almost as if a game of laser focus. If you treat the overall experience as a creative challenge to ignore the rest of what’s going on and focus on being intentional with anyone or anything that crosses your path, you’ll find yourself less overwhelmed. Focus and be intentional in experiencing that conversation, that activation, that free swag or photo booth to the full instead of worrying about what you feel like you should be doing instead.
6.) Send a follow-up email the next day.
Remember that great conversation you had last night? Before you forget, send a follow-up email. It’s very easy for people to forget each other after networking events if you don’t find a way to lock in the connection soon after. Remind so-and-so about that weirdly deep conversation you had, what you do, and that you enjoyed getting to know them. Think of the post-event-follow-up-email as the final coat of paint that seals it all in. You may never hear from them again but chances are they will remember you, and who knows what opportunities can come from being the introverted, intentional and relationship-building dreamboat you are.
What are some of your favorite networking tips? Leave us a comment below.